Debut issue of a new monthly column
This is a new monthly column for this blog. In addition to the Western Lands Uranium Gopher, which covers the industry in the U.S., I'm expanding blog coverage to include the Canadian uranium mining industry.
This column is an edited version of content published in Fuel Cycle Week, V8:N355 12/02/09 by International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC.
(All prices are expressed in Canadian currency)
(Image source: Canadian Nuclear Association – History of Uranium Mining in Canada)
CAMECO gains from India/Canada nuclear deal
Uranium mining giant Cameco (TSX:CCO) CEO Jerry Grandey (left) told CBC news a cooperative agreement inked between Canada and India on Nov 28 is a multi-million payday for the firm. He said India is an "energy hungry country" with a plan for aggressively building new reactors. Indian political leaders have made the case for 20 GWe of new nuclear reactor construction over the next two decades.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the deal jointly Nov 27 with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a diplomatic meeting in Trinidad. According to information released by Harper's office, the agreement will allow Canadian firms to export nuclear fuel, technologies, and equipment to India. Harper told the National Post the agreement is worth $25-50 billion in exports over the next two decades.
Grandey estimated that the agreement could include combined exports to India, from all Canadian miners not just Cameco, of seven million pounds of uranium a year. At current long-term contract prices, the value of the exports would be about $500 million annually.
"One of the interesting things is that India has a very ambitious civilian nuclear energy power program and they have a shortage of uranium in that country. They've been quite eager to establish a long-term relationship with Cameco so we can supply them with fuel over many decades."
Canadian Trade Minister, Stockwell Day, said the state-owned Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) had signed a memorandum of understanding with India for next-generation nuclear reactors. Canada ceased nuclear co-operation with India in 1974 after it used Canadian plutonium to build an atomic bomb. This new agreement restores the relationship. It includes supplying fuel to the reactors once they are built and operational.
Canada has no uranium enrichment capability and will need to produce nuclear fuel at an intermediate site in another country in order to power the ACR1000 reactor design, a 1,200 MWe unit. It is expected to be the primary reactor type offered for export to India.
The Canadian deal with India has created an uproar in Australia which has refused to sell uranium to India because it won't sign a nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Australian mining companies have complained they are losing market share to Canada.
The Rudd Administration said it is concerned India will stockpile domestic uranium for military weapons and use uranium imports for civilian purposes.
In Canada Minister Day said his country has insisted that India admit nuclear inspectors to civilian facilities. Under the deal, Canadian nuclear exports cannot be used for military purposes, he said.
Cameco updates Cigar Lake mine status
Dewatering of the Cigar Lake mine resumed in November at locations between 250-400 meters (800-1,400 ft) below the surface by placing inflatable seals between the sources of the water and the shafts. Miners are backfilling the seals with concrete. (See mine diagram ~ PDF file ~from Cameco web site.)
Mine managers said it will take six-to-twelve months to dewater the mine and resume operations depending on what shape the shafts and equipment are in once the water is gone. Regulatory agencies including the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and those from the provincial government in Saskatchewan must approve a new operations plan before production can resume.
Cameco CEO Jerry Grandy told the Toronto Globe & Mail Nov 27 the mine is expected to produce nine million pounds of uranium a year once it is again in production.
Hathor announces NI 43-101 results for Roughrider Zone
The initial report is 6.58 million pounds U3O8 in the indicated category, and 5.47 million pounds inferred. The higher grade zone is reported to be 17.28% U3O8. The results come from drilling 120 holes totaling 41,830 meters in 2008. Results from the 2009 summer drilling program are not included in the report. A 10% interest in the property is owned by Terra Ventures (TSX:TAS).
The NI 43-101 complaint report is being prepared by Scott Wilson Roscoe Postle Associates. The initial estimated NI 43-101 compliant indicated resource is 116,000 tonnes (6.5 million pounds) U3O8 grade 2.75% and an inferred resource of 83,000 tonnes (5.5 million pounds) U3O8 grade 3.00%.
UEX Corp reports progress in Shea Creek, Athabasca Basin
UEX Corp (TSE:UEX) reported drilling results from its 49% owned Shea Creek uranium project in the Athabasca Basin. It reported intercepts of 5.55% U3O8 in the site's Kianna deposit and 7.24% U3O8 in the site's Anne deposit.
UEX CEO said in a statement to Canadian news media Nov 21, "The significant drill results over such an extensive area illustrate the vast size and potential of this project."
UEX is a joint venture partner in the mine with Areva Resources Canada Inc.
The firm said in a statement the joint venture plans to spend $12.3 million in 2010 on the Shea Creek project and two others – Mirror River and Beatty River. Of that amount, $8 million is for exploration. UEX's share of the total is $5.4 million.
At market close Nov 27 UEX shares traded at $0.93 against a 52-week range of $0.49-$1.80 with market capitalization of $179 million. The firm reported $13.4 million in cash on hand.
CanAlaska gets $3 million investment, acquires Cluff Lake Uranium Project
Can Alaska Uranium Corp (TSX:CVV) has issued shares of stock against a private placement of $3 million to be used for uranium exploration.
CanAlaska will purchase 100% of the project from Hawk for 1,250,000 shares and a cash payment of $62,500.
The Cluff Lake claims will be added to those of the existing Carswell project. These claims are situated immediately west of the past-producing uranium mine and processing facilities at Cluff Lake, which had produced 62 million pounds U3O8 over 22 years prior to its closure in 2000.
These claims are also located 11 km NW of the Shea Creek Project, an advanced-stage uranium exploration project presently being developed by UEX/AREVA in the same area.
New Nunavut group forms to oppose uranium mining
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) reported Nov 25 that a new group of Nunavummiut concerned about uranium mining has been formed in response to advances in exploration in the Baker Lake region about 200 km inland from the Hudson Bay.
Spokesperson Sandra Inutiq (right) said the group "would sponsor informed discussion" about whether uranium mining should be allowed in Nunavut.
She said the group's name translates from the native language as "Nunavummiut can rise up."
In 2007 Nunavut Tunngavik, Inc. the land claims organization for the region, approved a limited authorization for uranium mining. More than 20 companies are involved in exploration. Areva Canada has submitted a permit application for an underground mine at its Kiggavik site about 80 km west of Baker Lake.
Newfoundland deposits under exploration
Two firms are conducting initial exploration of possible uranium deposits on the Connaigre Peninsula on the southwest coast of Newfoundland. Altius Mineral (TSE:ALS) and Kirrin Resources (OTC:KIRRF) will commence a drilling program in 2010 once the weather permits.
Lawrence Winter, VP at Altius said the combined effort will cost in excess of $1 million. Results from just four drill holes in 2009 are the basis for planning the 2010 program. He added that a decision to develop a mine in the area is several years away. The work is taking place at Boxley Point near Hermitage Bay.
At market close Nov 27 Altius stock traded at $7.45 against a 52-week range of $3.58-8.27 with market capitalization of $211 million. No stock transactions were reported for Kirrin.
International Enexco to resume drilling at Mann Lake in Athabasca Basin
International Enexco Ltd (TSX:IEC) reported that drilling operations will resume in 2010 when weather permits at the firm's Mann Lake project in the eastern portion of the Athabasca Basin. The firm is in a joint venture with a 30% share. Other partners are Cameco (52.5%) and Areva Resources Canada (17.5%). The project is located 25 km southeast of Cameco's MacArthur River uranium mine.
Preliminary drilling results, according to a company press statement, are high grade intersections at two separate locations (7.12% U3O8) and (5.53% U3O8).
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